Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jan 29: 16 Before Rest Week - p

I had 2 rest days.  I normally would've tried to get the run inon Saturday if I felt fine enough, but I had to work for 6 hrs that morning.  I went to Saturday evening church, so Sunday morning was time to get in the run.  I ended up still feeling not particularly runny on Saturday, so it was just as well.  I have a rest week coming up next anyway, so this run could be pushed back a day without issues.

In the morning, I wanted to start the run at 7am, when there would be just enough light, to minimize sun exposure.  It took me a long time to wake up and drink and pack, though.  Yesterday, I felt like I had a fair bit of good carbs... kind of craved it.  I wonder if it was me/my body wanting to fuel up.  Anyway, I ate a half a Light cheese spread sandwich plus a bit of cheese and a big cup of decaf and one and a half big cups of water.  Eventually, I got out the door. 

It was 32 degrees in the morning.  At first, I thought I would need the face mask, since I had used it in the first part of a 29 degree cold run 2 weeks ago, but when I stepped out of the car, it felt fine enough without that and even the light gloves. 

My legs weren't feeling particularly sharp, but I was going to be plenty satisfied with even a slower run, since last week's 20.7 went well (8:51 pace)... the first run this marathon buildup that matched my paces from the last buildup a year ago.  That boosted my confidence, and I knew I could do it, no matter what happened today. 

I started running at 8:30 (late!)  In the first two miles, I took a couple of sips of water+salt+lemon  juice.  My hands were sooo cold holding that bottle.  The other hand had the extra long sleeve to cover most of it.  I stashed the bottle and continued on my run.  I didn't hit up the bottle again until the last 2 miles. 

I felt like the first 4 miles were a warmup.  After that, I started pressing it progressively more.  I listened to the House of Run podcast for the first time, and it was nice... a good way to mix it up... good dialog.  If I see an interesting topic in their playlist, I may try others in the future.  I normally listen to MarathonTalk, Phedippidations, and DirtDawg'sRamblingDiatribes the most during runs. I also like to listen to KelownagirlTris, ExtraMile, and TheMarathonShow sometimes. 

The Garmin ended up saying that I went 16.4, but using and checking and double-checking, I think I did 16.8.  I don't know why it's off so much. I did notice one time when it seemed to think it took me more time than it should've to notice about a quarter mile section.  I dunno.  I'm saying  16.8, though.

16.8 in 2:24:33, 8:37 ave.  Since the Garmin said 16.4, I thought I was going a bit slower.  But that sounds a bit more like it, given the effort.  I was pressing it about 90% during this run.  I know I was going to be okay with a slow run, but afte the 4-mi warmup, I started feeling good, and I figured that maybe it'll be one of my last few chances to really get in a quality workout before the tapering period.

I had a 100-Cal mini Clif bar at mile 6. 

Splits> 9:45, 9:02, 9:04, 9:32, 8:40, 9:46, 8:34, 8:05, 8:14, 8:29, 8:42, 8:49, 8:52, 8:36, 8:05, 8:43, 3:26 for 0.4.  I don't think it should really be that uneven.  Garmin issues, maybe.

I finished the run.  My legs were pressing the effort, but I was strong to the end, although that last uphill did challenge me.  I refueled with protein powder+cocoa+instant decaf, carrots, and half a grapefruit while in the car.  Once I got home, I spent like the rest of my waking day (other than a 2hr nap) refueling, it feels like. 

Good run.  Coming up: a pull-back week of 8, 8, and 7 easy (8:32 pace).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jan 26: Bike, Iffy Run Turned Good

Yesterday, it was time for a workout after a day off.  I started to run a few steps on the treadmill, but my legs felt too bangy, so I switched to the bike.  I biked slower but longer than usual - my right butt (really the piriformis) held up better and longer than it has in a long time.  It was mostly from fatigue that I finally stopped - not the butt.  65 minutes, covering 15.6 mi on the recumbent bike.  Going farther is easier and quicker on an upright bike than on a recumbent bike for some reason.  I much prefer upright bikes, but you work with what you have.

I didn't know how today would go run-wise.  It was time for another run.  I wore Kinvaras.  The thought of running on a treadmill again was unappetizing to my legs.  Maybe from the banginess.  They would've even preferred asphalt.  But the gym is easier than having to plan a route and put on the appropriate clothes and reflective gear and lights.  I wore the light and cushiony Saucony Kinvaras to make my legs feel better, and it was good.

I had to start VEEERY SLOWLY.  6.7mph.... record slow.  It was going to be a recovery run day.  Things naturally picked up over the course of the run, though, and things were chugging along nicely by the end. 

6.0 in 49:43, 8:17 ave.  2-mi splits> 17:34 (8:47), 16:34 (8:17), 15:34 (7:47)... coincidence.

I could've continued on if the gym wasn't closing and if I didn't have a Healthy Choice fudge bar right before the run.  Things got uncomfortable with 1.5 miles left, but I managed.

I tried to take a nap right before the run.  It was hard to drag myself out of bed.  I was tired today, but the run makes everything good.

I tried protein powder + skim milk for the first time today, and it was actually good.  I used to have it plain with water, and it was hard to drink.  Adding cocoa powder and instant decaf made it tolerable.  But skim milk was good, and skim milk and oatmeal is also good.

I tried practicing good form during the run.  High knee lift, butt kicks, head straight over body, arms not crossing the body, relaxed as best as I could (mostly in the arms).  It worked out pretty well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jan 22-23: Strength, Steady Run - p

Yesterday, I did my usualy weekly-ish strength session.  They've been getting progressively better.  I started some variation of it probably in college.  It was really handy when I was injured with a sprained ankle for weeks, since it was the only real exercise I could do.  It also helps keep everything strong and balanced.  More recently, like within the past 2 years, it's been a big factor in me keeping injury-free for the most part.  I used to have knee issues, but hip strengthening exercises with 4-way resistance band hip exercises, single-leg quad dips, and hip flexor exercises have worked wonders, all thanks to a P.T. buddy's help.  No knee pain since then! 

Nowadays, I normally eat between many of the exercises, haha.  It makes me hungry.  I also stretch between many of the exercises.  It feels good to do it.  I used to just roll right through the exercises to keep up the intensity, but I like to eat and stretch now.  I hit all of the muscle groups in one session, and one per week or week and a half is about the perfect interval.  Any sooner, and my performance suffers in the second session.  Any longer, and I manage fewer reps in the second session because of fitness losses.  I usually time my strength sessions to be a little more than a week before big races... 8-9 days. 

After workouts, I log.  After cardio workouts, I blog.  I don't normally really mention the strength session, since it's almost always the same.  I'll rotate a few exercises that are similar in nature from time to time, but 85% of it is normally the same.  

OHh, I forgot to mention.  At like 4am last night, I woke up with stabbing pains in my right deltoid.  And it's been bugging me throughout the day!  Every few seconds, it feels like I'm getting shot with a bullet in the deltoid.  I don't know what it is.  I didn't feel anything odd during the strength session, although I did push it maybe 7% more than usual.  Hopefully, I will sleep it off tonight. 

Also today, I woke up feeling like my immune system may be a little bit down, so I had half a pack of Emergen-C, just in case.  I feel fine now.  I should be careful and eat lots of fruits and veggies, though, and wash my hands often and all of that.  I should sleep more, too, but that's probably not going to happen. 

Today, 2 days after the 20, I was going to do some cardio, most likely biking, due to the lack of a chance to do anything like that tomorrow.  I felt good enough to run, though, so I brought both shoes to the gym, so that I could run if the treadmill was free and otherwise bike.  I got to run, and it went well.  I tried a good, and for once, pretty steady (not progression) run.

I started with a warmup that warmed up pretty quickly from 7-7.5mph, then I held 7.6mph (about goal MP on a good day), then cooled down with a bit of striding thrown in there (thanks for the suggestion, Linds!).  It was my first time doing strides at the end of a workout.  I normally do that progression and then stop pretty suddenly.  The slowing down was nice after the hard effort (as slow as 7mph), and the strides felt good as a way to stretch my legs out a bit (strides at 8mph).

5.5 in 43:57, 7:59 ave.

Splits> 8:13, 4 x 7:56, 4:00 for 0.5.

I wore a tech tee, and it was 75 degrees in there, so was sweating more than normal.

I don't cook very often, but this has been a nice change.  I don't like to cook meat because I don't like the potential for germs and the mess and the extra effort of cooking.  I usually go with dairy or tofu or other soy-based foods or sometimes black beans.  Rarely, I'll do some fish or chicken.  But this was good:

Broccoli, 98% FF Cream of Mushroom, Carrots, Peas, Chicken, FF cheddar, Chives, Parsley, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, baked until the Cheese is slightly burned.

And I've been eating lots of this in the past couple of days:

1/2 a Flat-out Multigrain Flatbread, topped with Salsa, broiled with FF cheddar until the Cheese is slightly burned. 

Eating the FF cheddar by itself I can't stand, but toasting it makes it absolutely delightful!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jan 21: Second 20 for Albany, Rainy and Faster - p

Time for another 20.  Time to see if I could do better than the 9:25 pace I struggled through 3 weeks ago.  It was going to be rainy for the first part of my run (100% change), and it was 50% chance for the remaining two hours.  It was also going to be 54 degrees. 

I woke up after sleeping in for the first time in a long time.  I got 10.5 hours, waking up at 10:30am, and I had about 2.5 hours until it would be time for me to get out the door to get in the run while it was still light outside.  It was raining as I was fueling up with quesadillas (whole grain tortillas spread with salsa and broiled with fat free cheddar - delicious!!!) and peanuts, and I was a bit dreading getting too wet, potentially over the course of 20 miles.  I used to love working out in the rain in college during runs or frisbee practices.  It was epic.  The last time I remember running through significant rain was not long after I first moved here, 2.5 years ago, though.  I was intent on doing the run today, though, so that I could have ample time to recover on Sunday and for a week before a 16er next weekend.

My first-generation iPod Shuffle stopped working one time after a sweaty summer run.  I recently brought it out and stuck it in the freezer in hopes of reviving it.  Sounds stupid, but I read on the internet that it worked for someone.  It did start working again.  Part of it could've been me pushing the green on-sticker back into its place.  Dunno.  It stopped again after a couple of nights, but it could've been the battery.  Anyway, I wanted to protect my Shuffle, so I wrapped it up in a sandwich bag.

I packed my drawstring bag with during-run fuel (Gatorade, mini-Clif bar, and a Honey Stinger Waffle that I've never tried before).  For post-run refueling, I packed almonds, an orange, a banana, carrot sticks, water, and protein powder+cocoa+instant decaf.  I didn't end up eating all of that, but I'll get to that later.

I laced up my shoes, brought a pair of flip-flops so that could change out of my wet gear after the run, and headed out the door.

Driving out to Falls Park, it was raining quite a bit.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to finish the run due to a mix of the long distance in this weather plus my last struggle with the 20.  It did get a little better right before I got there.

One very good thing about the clouds that I was thankul for - I didn't have to worry about doing the run either at the start or the end of daylight, to minimize the risks of mixing sun + my acne meds.  I decided to go with a singlet because it felt a little chilly, and the clothing might offer a barrier of warmth from the rain.  It was 51-54 degrees during the run.

I started off, carrying the Gatorade, which I would stash on the loop that I'd pass by about 12 times, not that I'd stop every time.  I had tried to go without water during my last 20 and ended up gulping down 3/4 L after 16, so I wasn't going to try that again.  The rain wasn't that bad, especially with the visor.  It felt like you could dodge (or at least not feel) most of the raindrops.  Only a few on my arms here and there.  There was moderate rain, but I didn't feel most of them.

I ate a 100-cal Clif bar after 4 miles.  It stopped raining after about 6 miles.  I guess the run went faster than normal, at least for the first miles, which have felt like they've dragged on for all of the LRs during this build-up.  I didn't start particularly conservatively.  I just went.  Now that I figured out how to turn on my mile-split beeper on the Garmin, I decided that I'd take mile splits instead of landmark splits, since that actually tells me something.  The splits were kind of all over the place.  I don't know if it's the course's variation (surface... I stick to grass when I can, go on the spongy trail as a back-up when it's available, and do asphalt when I must, and a bit of small but sometimes steep hills... not many, though), or if it's the Garmin.  I know that at one point, it measured a mile very short, based on the split and based on the fact that the distance counter went from 9-9.1-9.2 within a matter of like 20 seconds.  I decided that I'd have to tack on a bit of extra distance at the end despite what the Garmin would say, to make sure I got the full 20. 

I took Gatorade swallows about 4-5x.  After the third time, I really wish that I had water instead.  I usually don't have much sugar, especially in pure form.  I get some from my 72% Trader Joe's dark chocolate and my occassional vegan cookies, but otherwise, no obvious forms of sugar.  All the sugar from the Gatorade and the Clif bar and a couple chunks of the Stinger waffle made me feel a bit bleh.  That's only like 250 Cal of sugar, but it's too much for me.  At one point, I would've liked something salty or savory instead. 

Run, run, run.  It was a good feeling to only have 7.5 miles left.  The second half of the run goes quickly.  It always gets me pumped up a little to see other runners out on the course, doing their training, too.  There was a mom and a little girl who must've been like 6, running just after the rain stopped, and it was awesome. 

The last 3 miles, I might've slowed, although it's hard to tell.  My Garmin stopped measuring distance at 17.8 miles.  It had lost signal... maybe the clouds or something, although it had been working just fine for the first part of the run.  Anyway, the last mile was paritcularly hard, but by then, you have the promise of the finish line to keep you going. 

After the run, with the sugar OD, I only wanted carrots.  I changed out of my wet gear.

I add these pictures for two main reasons.  1) Blogs are a lot more interesting when there are pictures.  You guys put up with words a lot.  2) I want to be able to remember in the future what it was like to be living the dream.  Both the journey and the destination (Boston) make running awesome.  Pictures help to capture the feeling. 

Poor toes.

Wet, dirty gear.

Once home, I had vegetarian meat crumbles+onions+green peppers with salsa, half a quesadilla, chai tea, a pickle, soy crisps, a bit of cheddar, 1/2 cup of pickle juice, goldfish, the orange that I didn't eat earlier, peanuts, and blackberries... over the course of like 4 hours.  Food tastes soooooo good after a run.  I had a delightfully hot shower somewhere in there.  The wet clothes made me cold after the run.

I read a good chunk of "Running with the Hansons" by Sage Canaday, which is about life as a pro runner in that elite running group.  It's been a very enjoyable read.  It's like the post-collegiate version of Running with the Buffaloes, and there's something interesting on every page.  I was going to try to sleep early, but my mind won't let me, so I'm blogging instead.

Since my Garmin had stopped working during the run, I used to see how much I actually ran... 20.7 in 3:03:14, 8:51 ave.  Over 0:30/mi faster than last time, with about the same effort - good.  I was thinking, it may be good that I took it easy for the first month of the buildup and didn't really try to push.  I don't want to peak too early.  It was an encouraging run, and maybe starting to push the effort a bit now with 2 months to go will allow me to peak at the right time.

Jan 19: Pushing the Pedal

Pushed the gas pedal a bit today on my run, and it was great. I’ve been thinking more about last year’s training.

I was often dead tired last year. It seems like that would’ve hindered my training. I’d try to take like a 1hr nap after work and dinner, and then I’d drag myself out of bed before the gym closed. Now, I’m physically better. Getting by with fewer naps. No late-night work sessions in the past few months. So that’s not it.

What could be it… I pushed the pace more last year and went maybe 92% effort on the runs. You don’t want 100% because of the injury risk. This time, I’ve been stopping way earlier… maybe 75-80% or something. I haven’t gone as hard because I was too conservative about avoiding injury risk, and I thought I was accomplishing the task just fine. I didn’t realize until I checked my pace patterns after noticing the lagging LRs that I was more going through the motions than improving fitness.

I stepped it up today. A longer run with a bit quicker pace. It was great.
6.2 in 48:42, 7:51 ave. Splits> 8:24, 8:01, 7:55, 7:47, 7:40, 7:27, 1:26 for 0.2.

Today and yesterday, I stretched and foam rolled right before the run because it energized and loosened me up so much on Monday that I wished I could run. It didn’t have the quite same effect, but it does feel kind of good in general. Normally, I don’t do static stretching before workouts because it supposedly decreases endurance and strength, but I think it’s probably ok for training runs and in small doses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jan 18: Speed Session and Crunch Time - p

Looking back and comparing this marathon buildup to last year's, I'm a little disappointed to see how my LRs and even my weekday training runs are like 30 seconds per mile slower than they were before.  For one run, that's fine.  For all of the runs, especially the LRs, that's not good.  I highlighted some comparable LRs. What am I doing wrong?


Maybe I'm not pushing myself as hard as I did last time because I thought that that's what it took to get into marathon shape.  And maybe now I'm going more conservatively?  At first, I thought that maybe I used lighter shoes for the Houston LRs, but looking back at th log, it's the same model of shoe (NB 1224 or 1225s) that I used for this year's LRs.  Routes are the same.  Weather should be comparable.  Sleep is always not ideal but normal for me.  Weight is the same.  Stress is the same.  Fueling is the same.

So... I must step it up.  Now is the time to do it.  I have 1 month left of real training before it's time to start tapering.  Once I start tapering, the money is in the bank, and that's all the money that can be deposited.  So I gotta figure out what I'm doing wrong and start stepping it up now.

Maybe it's just the drive.  I have to just push myself more.  The thing about just pushing it is that in LRs, it can mean fading hard at the end, and that's not good.  Even at 9:25 pace for my first 20, I was fading hard at the end.  Maybe it's pushing myself harder on the weekday runs.  I don't specify in the summary above whether it was a tempo run or a speed session.  This time, I've done no tempos, just speed, if it is a faster average pace.  I dunno.

I've added some hills.  I've added a bit of Insanity (plyos) this time.  I thought that would've helped, and maybe it is helping.  But I'm still missing something.

Right before Albany's buildup started, I raced many halfs.... 3 within 4 or 5 weeks.  Maybe I'm in the post-peak season and my body is just taking a break on me.

Ideas, anyone?

Today, in an effort to inject a bit more effort and speed into my training, I did a treadmill interval session.
It took 1 mi @ 7mph just to feel comfortable running, and I spent another 0.5 mi working up to 7mph.  Then, 3 x [0.75 @ 9mph, 0.25 @ 7.5mph].  That was all I felt I could do.

4.5 in 33:39, 7:29 ave.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jan 15: Start of the third cycle - p

Yesterday was my scheduled 16er LR day, but I had to go to work in the morning, and much to my delight, I found out that the trials were being aired from 3-5pm on NBC, one of the 4 decent channels I can get.  With some acne meds I started taking, I have to be careful about staying out of the sun, but I still need some light to run, so that meant that my run would be delayed until Sunday.  My church has a 6pm Saturday service, which makes shuffling around schedules much easier. 

The Olympic trials were AWESOME.  Watching people run for 2 hours may seem like it can't be very exciting, but I'm telling you - I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I'm a big fan of Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher.  I got to see Ryan speak once (at the Country Music Marathon expo) and run at the Olympic Trials preview in Houston last year.  I'm glad that I ended up running Houston last year instead of waiting until this year, since I'm in a vacation freeze for a project and had to work that day.

Anyway, they both seem like really nice people from the videos and interviews I've seen, and I was very excited for them.  In the early miles, they didn't focus much on Kara, and it took me a while to ID her, but I noticed her necklace and was happy as she was in the mix early on and showed her stuff sticking it through the rest of the race.  She had a baby a little over a year ago and didn't have as much training as she would've liked and caught a cold last week, so to see her do so well and get emotional at the end of the race almost made me cry with tears of joy, too!  You can follow her blog at   That would be so cool to be able to race with friends like the trials women get to do. Two of them were college roomies, and two of them train together today. I guess having to go up against them, knowing that not everyone will make it is tough, but it would be a cool experience.

I meant to wake up at 6am so that I could start at 7am, a little before sunset, to avoid sun as much as possible.  I didn't start running until 7:30, since it was hard to wake up after 7 hrs of sleep.  On the bright side, my legs weren't stiff in the morning, which is unusual.  I always thought I couldn't be a morning runner because of that, but I don't know what it was this morning.  Didn't stretch yesterday, but I did stretch all of the other days this week, but that's normal for me.  So I don't know. 

I made oatmeal but then decided I was more in the mood for a banana.  I have lots of bananas to finish, anyway.  I normally don't practice pre-race prep much.  I only do things like my warm-up shower, loads of decaf, and on-course gel and electrolyte drinks during rces.  During training runs, I'll go without water, eat solids instead of gu or chomps (more recently, at least), etc.  So I thought it might be useful to experiment a little.  I watched videos of many Trials hopefuls talking about what they planned to eat race-day, and almost all of them had simple, bland foods like toast, a banana, and/or oatmeal.  It must work! 

I knew it would be cold, in the low 30s, plus potential windchill, and it would be dark for the first part, so I wore a long sleeve Brooks vibrant yellow tech shirt with a pocket in the back, where I stashed one glove (so that one hand could be free to do things like wipe my nose more easily) and my iTouch, in case I wanted to snap any photos.  I ended up not taking any photos because I wanted to focus on the run.  I wore my visor, New Balance shades (missing a nose piece), iPod shuffle, Under Armour calf sleeves (one thing I do wear for races that I don't normally wearin training), my watch (as a back-up timer), and my Garmin. 

I started fast, maybe because of the downhill, with a 8:21 mile, but then I settled in.  It was cold, and for the first few miles, I was really happy to have neck warmer / lower face mask to breathe through.  I took a 100-cal mini Clif bar at the 6 mile mark when I got a little bit hungry and low on fuel, but I didn't end up needing the bottle of water + lemon juice + salt that I had carried to the 2 mile mark and stashed by some rocks.  I drank a lot in the morning.  I got tired at around mile 8 and thought for the slightest moment about cutting the run short, but I kept chugging.  The first 10 miles always go by so slowly, but the last few always click by.  It got warm in the long sleeve shirt later on, but not uncomfortably so.  It had a zipper, so I was able to zip it pretty far down to increase ventilation.  My iPod shuffle hasn't been recharged in a while, so I ran out of new content and had to listen to old stuff again, but it was just fine.  I just need something to help me zone out at the end. 

Splits> 8:38 b, 7:05 p short, 8:20 c, 8:03 p, 7:46 b long, 6:32 p s, 8:08 c, 7:51 p, 7:44 b l, 6:21 p s, 7:48 c, 7:51 p, 7:33 b l, 6:15 p s, 7:28 c, 7:19 p, 7:11 b l, 5:59 p s, 7:21 b l, 8:14 car.

I really picked it up in the last few miles.  It's so wonderful to negative split. 

16.8 in 2:29:37, 8:55 ave, 1304 cal. 

My pace is about what I had hoped it would be.  My last 16er (16.2) was at 8:51.  I hope next weekend's 20 goes better than the last one.

Yesterday, in addition to work + watching the trials, I was feeling kinda tired and not in the mood for running.  My throat was feeling a bit dry, too.  It was probably best that I waited until today.

Towards the end of the run, I pictured myself spending the rest of the day reading "Running with the Hansons" or something like that, and it sounded really realxing.  I ended up watching the post-trials interviews and spending like 3 hours refueling, and I'm about to take a nap.  Maybe I'll read later.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jan 12: 25 Laps Around the Sun - p

I just finished my 25th lap around the sun. 

It's always nice to get Facebook posts.  I didn't expect it at all last year and was so happy each time I got one.  This time, I knew it was coming, but it's still really nice.  I don't do much on Facebook these days (no schoolwork to procrastinate from anymore), so I don't end up posting much to others, but it makes me want to do it more, knowing how much it brightens my day, whether I know someone well, or if I haven't talked to them in ages - all of them are special.

It was a run day, so my plan was to do 25 laps (on a treadmill)... and I decided to add "1 to grow", since I log my distances in tenths of miles, and 6.25 wouldn't do.  The effort was kind of harder than I would've thought, but maybe my body is a bit tired from all of the training.  I had to use a lot of arm movments to make it easier on my legs. 

6.5 in 53:05, 8:10 ave.  1 degree treadmill, 71 degree gym.

I made pancakes beforehand.  I like my pancakes.  100% whole wheat, and loads of bananas (3 bananas vs. 1.5 cups of flour) and dark chocolate.  I enjoyed one with sugar free syrup after the run.

Yesterday, since my legs were still a bit banged up from the HM race+strength day+ treadmill hills+rest day, I did a bike session.  It worked my heart good.  I made it through a whole hour with my butt tolerating it, which is like 15 min longer than it can normally stand.  I read Runner's World, and it was nice.

15.8 miles in 1 hr.

Sleep's been like 6.5 hrs/ night this week.  Not enough.  I still haven't unpacked from winter break, after 2 weeks, and I haven't completely cleaned my apartment yet, either. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jan 9: Treadmill Hills and Practicing Bolt's Form - v

I usually need a day off after a Run day followed by a Strength day, mostly due to a need to recover from the strength session.  But today, I really felt in the mood to run in the morning.  It waned a bit during the workday, although I was still looking forward to it for the most part in the evening.  After dinner, followed by looking for photos from Saturday's race, I went out to the fitness room.

It's odd how the days right after a hilly race that I feel really really in the mood for hills.  I would've thought that my legs would be tired, but they're kind of itching for it.  I think it might be the slight soreness in my shin muscles (tibialis anteriors?) that want to be worked out a bit.

So hills it was.  I was also in the mood for wearing my Brooks Trance 8s.  I normally save those somewhat less cushioned shoes for my grassy park runs, but I wanted to use those today for some reason.  They're a bit lower to the ground (hence the less cushioned feeling?) and just seemed very appealing when I was going through the options in my head on my way home from work.

So... I started with a 1 mile warmup.  Actually, when I started the run, my left achilles was a bit off for just a minute or so, and just before the run, I had been feeling a little tired enough that I was just going to do a normal run, but once I got going, I went back to the idea of hills.

So... 1 mile warmup @ 1 degree, going from 7-7.3mph.  Then, at 7.3mph, 3 x [0.5 mi @ 1 degree, 0.5 mi @ 5 degrees], 1 mile shakeout/cooldown @ 1 degree, going from 7.3-8mph.

In terms of mile splits, it was 8:23, 3 x 8:16, 7:52.  I was tired enough after the third hill rep that I didn't want to do a fourth, but flat running was just fine.

When I was checking my blog feed today, I saw these videos of Usain Bolt's footstrike (found on a Runblogger post), and it was beautiful:

So I focused on having the same land-with-your-feet-right-under-you and push-off-with-your-toes mostly, and I was amazed by how doing those two things really super minimized if not eliminated my heel striking.  And it felt so fluid!!!  To maintain this, I had to butt-kick more, and that worked really well.  Really - take a look at these videos and try to mimic it.  It was like a totally new sensation of running!!!

I've watched form videos before, but those other runners' movements weren't so simplistic and copyable as these seem to be, it seems.  I don't know what it is.  But I'm excited to try this more, and to see what it feels like on completely flat runs and runs outside on the grass and on the road.

I was eager to refuel afterwards with 2 small oranges and salmon.

5.0 in 41:03, 8:13 ave.  75 degree gym.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

LIFE: Reasons for Hope

You tell your kid that if they brave the flu shot, you'll take them out for ice cream afterwards.

You tell your kid that if they brave the flu shot, you'l buy them Breyers the company, so that they make millions a year and can have all of the ice cream they want.

From Romans 8:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

The hardships of loneliness, fears about the uncertainties of the future, disappointment in others, disappointment in ourselves are here today and are real.  But redemption is coming, and it's disproportionate.  For that hope, we can wait and endure. 

There's an ache inside of all of us for something more than what we have.  Not all of the money in the world, not a special someone in your life, not all of the physical pleasures of life can fill it.  We feel that ache now because we were made for something more, for eternity, for a life that makes the most pleasureable experiences in this world seemed 1-D and tasteless and monochromatic compared to a vidvid, 4-D world that we can't even fathom now with our limited ability to comprehend what can be.

We have tastes of what can be today.  God gives good gifts.  Endless combinations of delightful foods.
Friends through whom Jesus shines, who bring encouragement and love and friendship in the darkest times. 

Beautiful sights of snowfall in woods, mountains swimming through clouds, the sunset over a beach. 

The invigorating feeling of being alive when you run at tempo pace, making you breathe hard and feel the blood runnig through your veins.

One time when I was desperate for reasons to not "give up", I tried googling it.  The results were pretty disappointing.  In the end, the most powerful reason for me is to not hurt the ones I love.  I know people who live with some degree of guilt today because they felt like they could've possiby done something to help, but they didn't know how to, or were busy, or maybe didn't know the extent of it.  As a side note, for whatever it's worth coming from me, it's not your fault.  Don't feel guilty.  Anyway, those people have saved me countless times without knowing it.

I mention all of that because I think that this hope of redemption is another reason.

Another good reason, continuing with Romans 8...
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness with groanings too deep for words when we don't even know how to pray.  Why we go through stuff isn't clear and may not ever be made clear in this life.  But we can trust in the person of Christ.  We know from what he has done and who he is that he can be trusted.  He is saddened by what saddens us, and death and decay aren't what life is meant to be (John 11:35).  "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).  He's met our greatest need already, a Savior.  He's given us the Holy Spirit, a counselor.  Jesus is our friend and interceder (Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 8:34). 

These are my reasons for hope.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

RACE REPORT: YMCA Resolution Run Half Marathon 2012

Signing Up:
I found out about the race though an email, and it was a good deal and fit in okay with my training plan, so I signed up a couple of weeks ago.  It was "okay" because this week was my "off" week.  It wasn't "great" because it came after 3 weekends of a 16.2, 18.4, and 20.0.  And that last 20 was tougher for me than usual.  I did only run 1 time this week, though, just enough to tide me over to this race fitness-wise.

The Night Before:
I went more carby, but mostly with semi-junkfood... goldfish, tortilla chips, soy crisps... and I had an extra snack of it at like 11pm because at the time, I felt like I needed more, but the next morning, it felt like a mistake.  Next time, I'll eat healthier, with whole grain bread or pasta instead.

I looked up the course map and studied the mile markers and turns.  The pdf on the race website didn't have elevation, so I plotted it at to see what it was like.  Since it gave a graph covering 13 miles that was really stretched out, it looked pancake flat. 

Since I'm probably close to (maybe past, who knows) top form, I thought that a PR may be possible, given the long runs I've built up.  Temps looked pretty good, too, high-40s to low-50s. 

The Morning Of:
I showered to get my body warmed up.  I didn't pack until the morning.  Usually, I pack the day before.  I should pack the day before next time, since it took me a few extra minutes to look for certain items.  I have some stuff in my running "store" where I "go shopping" to pick out what I need for the day, but some often-used items aren't kept in there, and I had to hunt them down.

I had decaf, half of a Kashi granola bar.  Wasn't too hungry.

Drove out to Traveler's Rest.  There's a special feeling I get when I go out to my car in the slightly chilly early morning when I'm going to a race.  It's like "it's time for adventure".

At the packet pickup, they had REALLY nice long-sleeve tech shirts that I liked.  It's loose, kind of glowingly white, light, comfortable, and nice-looking.  I really really like it.  Maybe one of my favorite race shirts ever, seriously.  It was high-quality.

They hadn't posted anything about the number of water stops, so I asked a volunteer about it and continued to study the map for a while.  Then, I geared up... applied anti-chafing gel, put on my number.  Then, I laid down for a while, since my back was tired from sitting on the bleacher hunched over the map. 

The 5K started at 9am, and the HM started at 9:15.

At 5 til, I put on my shoes (my second pair of Kinvaras - only 2 runs totaling 9 miles so far on them) and did like 20 feet of running and did dynamic stretching and range of motion movements.

Went to the bathroom like 3x in all prior to the race.

They ended up startin the HM a few minutes early because they realized that the 5Kers would start coming back in at like 9:17, so we had to get a move on.  Good thing the bathroom line was short 7 minutes before race start.

The Race:
(Photo credit:

(Photo credit: YMCA)
The first mile went off just as planned.  If I wanted to go sub-1:35 to PR by 1 minute, I had to go 7:15.  I hit the split button on my watch... and the watch re-set itself because it was running out of batteries and couldn't handle any button pushing.  So for the rest of the race, I just had to look at the normal time and add time to estimate how far the next mile marker was.  That was okay.  The only bad part is that I don't have split data. 

The race was flat... for the first 2 miles.  For the next 10 miles, it got what felt like progressively hillier.  I started the first 1/2 mi with about 3 other girls.  One girl took off really strong not long after.  Another gradually pulled away... super gradually... going from being behind me to like 0.2 mi ahead of me over the course of the 13 miles.  So I was third.  I didn't look back during the race to see how close the next girl was.  Just kept chugging forward.

Through mile 6, I was fine with the water stops they had.  I found myself getting low on energy at about that time, though and remembered that I had a gel with 50mg caffeine (oh yeah, I had like 1/4 a cup of coffee before the race), and that helped a lot.  There were times during the rest of the race where I really wish I had more water.  The second half of the race is where you need it the most. 

On the hills, I was running with a shirtless guy who was a good climber, and he'd pass me on the climbs, and I'd fly by on the downhills, and he'd pass me again, etc.  He ended up getting a good lead later, but it was just kind of funy.  The hills were pretty steep (for me, for whom pancake flat running is the norm), and I power-walked probably 5x up the hills because it got me up at about the same pace my running would've gotten me up, but with much less energy. 

After mile 9, I thought I had just passed mile 10 and thought there was only 5K to go, so I put in a little surge, but then I realized that it was really 4 miles to go, so I just ran normally the rest of the time.  The last water stop came in at mile 12 (I thought it was going to be at mile 11.5), and I wasn't sure of exactly what landmarks to look for to let me know that it was time to kick.  Not that I could've done an extended kick, anyway, though.  So just keep looking ahead, to see where the people ahead are, and to see if they've turned yet.  Started on the road, when will it end... turned onto the trail... when will it end... up a hill... are we there yet?... and a little after the crest of the hill, it was time to turn.  It was a downhill to the end... the sign at the finish was really big, and it felt like a finish at a big race... the long last stretch.

Crossed the line in 1:39:53ish watch time.  Given the hills, that's ok.  After crossing the line, I saw 2 other girls finish within a minute of me.  Phew!  Barely got 3rd, then. 

It was a good run.  Good practice in racing.  I had forgotten about my gel, so I'll remember next time I get low on energy.  I know what it's like to wish for water.  I think my hill power-walk strategy worked well for me.  Gear (shades, visor, iPod Shuffle, UA calf sleeves, Feetures socks, shorts with back zippered pocket, number on sportsbra, Kinvaras) were all good.  Awareness of competitors.  I think I forgot to tell myself "relax the body", since that really helps with efficiency, I think. 

Bought a new watch on  Will need it for training!  Until then, I may use a Garmin or something.

It was a nice race, and I had a good time.  Nice volunteers, a challenging course, super-comfortable long sleeve tech shirt, a medal, good fellow racers who I got to talk to a bit after the race.  It was fun.  Great way to start 2012!!!

13.1 in 1:39:53, 7:37 ave.
Overall: 22/196
Women: 3/102
20-29F: 1/24

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jan 2-4: Bike, Insanity, Short Progression

Jan 2
First workout of the year!  I took yesterday off to recover from a difficult 20 miler.  It was a positive split and record slow.  9:25 vs. 8:42-8:50 that I ran for all 3 of the 20ers last yearfor Houston.  But I think the time of month had something to do with it.  Hopefully. 

I woke up at 5:30am to get in the workout since I was traveling back to GVL that day.  I wanted to be able to use what would hopefully be a better exercise bike before I went back to the one that hurts my right butt and back at my apartment's fitness room. 

The bike ended up being pretty rickety.  The seat was loose, so I ended up pulling myself towards the handlebars the whole time to keep the seat from rocking.  I got in a small arm workout as well.  The seat ended up making my right butt numb, too. 

I did the workout without a pre-bike breakfast, since I was still full from lots of food the day before.  I started feeling a bit low on energy after 25 min, but I pushed through another 15 minutes for 40 total, getting in 11.7 mi and 308 cal.

Jan 3
I would've run, but after Bible Study and 2nd dinner, it was too late, so I did 2 Insanity DVDs instead, doubling only because the first one was the "Cardio Recovery" workout.  The DVDs get my heart pumping pretty well, and I like the idea of getting in some plyos every now to keep up good springiness (stiffness = running economy - and to get more muscle recruitment (  I knew that I couldn't do my usual 1-hr strength session within 1 week of my Saturday race without negatively impacting the race result, so I wanted to test how Insanity would affect it.

The workout itself was okay.  My knees pop during squats, and my right knee may require some stretching or something of the hip muscles/ligaments. 

Jan 4
Today, I wanted to get the run in, so that I could have a full 2 days of rest before the HM.  I do best with 2 days of full rest.  1 day isn't enough.  2 days leaves me hungry to run on race day, full of energy.

I was going to be happy with even a short run.  I just wanted to remind my legs what it's like to run, since it would be my only run this week other than the race. 

I did a progression run on the treadmill, 1 degree.

4.0 in 31:34, 7:54 ave.  Splits> 8:26, 7:53, 7:48, 7:25. 

I wanted to get in a moderately good but short effort while keeping everything controlled, so that I wouldn't spend some of what I want to save for the race.

I've been compiling a list of workouts of all sorts, and I'm excited to try some, including treadmill ones, but I was too mentally tired to go for it today.  I just wanted to get in a few before closing time.

I was thinking - it may be fun to create a menu board like you see at a restaurant, except instead of big topics like "DESSERT", "BEVERAGES", "APPETIZERS", "SANDWICHES", "SOUPS", "ENTREES", you have things like "TRACK WORKOUTS", "HILLS", "TREADMILL WORKOUTS", "CROSS TRAINING", "WARM-UPS/COOLDOWNS", "ROAD WORKOUTS", and you have specific ones like Yasso 800s, Mile Repeats, Pyramids, and other specific workouts under each category, and instead of a description of how it's prepared and what the main ingredients are, you have paces, inclines, reps, etc, and instead of prices, you have a calorie count or something.  Mmm... what am I in the mood for today?

My watch is dying.  It shuts off and runs out of battery when you hit the "light" button, setting the time back to midnight when it revives itself a few seconds later.  I'll need to replace it before the marathon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Year-in-Review


Biggest Accomplishment:
Finishing my first marathon at Houston in January. I missed Boston by 41s, based on the standards back then + the 1 min grace period.   Training went about as well as I could've hoped, using the SmartCoach Runner's World plan but going at whatever paces felt natural to me.  I missed the BQ mostly due to race execution mistakes: 1) Taking an extra porta potty break right before the race start, making it impossible for me to join my corral and causing me to get stuck behind slower racers for the first part of the race, 2) making up the lost time by the 13 mile mark, when I should've tried to even out the effort.

Most Painful Run (and most animals):
After a couple of days of stomach issues (from the food or ice in Mexico) and not being able to keep whatever I was drinking or eating in me for long, I did a long run while I was visiting Princeton. Had to use the bathroom, but I didn't have one, so I just... endured.  I saw some animals, though. 

Funnest Bucket List Check:
Trying the water pit on the Steeplechase course at last.

Coolest Running Destiation:
Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the Ecological Preserve.

Highest Altitude Run:
1.65 mi in Toluca, Mexico.

And the highlights from my Mid-year report still hold.


3-wk Moving Average of Weekly Total Mileage:

- Weekly mileage was initially high because Jan 1, 2011 was right before my taper started for the January 30th Houston Marathon.
- After the marathon, I felt unable to really do any long runs.  I averaged about 15 mpw until I signed up for the Albany Marathon (Mar 3, 2012) and started the training program.  I did 19 LRs for the year and only managed about 1 per month during that 15mpw downtime.
- So far, training is going well for Albany.
- I had to use a moving average because the free training log I got from Publix last year at the Country Music HM has weeks starting on Sunday, rather than Monday, making the weekly totals very variable, since people often shift runs from Saturday to Sunday or vice versa.

Stats:Number of Each Kind of Workout:

- I take many rest days, so I don't do Recovery Runs very often.  I just rest instead.  I haven't historically done high mileage, so I don't do very many junk miles.  I also feel like I need recovery after runs.  I don't do many runs on back-to-back days. 
- Base workouts... includes progression runs. 
- Tempo... where I try to go at a hard effort during a training run.  When I first started getting more serious about running in early 2009, I would race every single workout and hurt my knees that way.  Now, I save those super hard efforts for races and take it 85% most of the time.
- Races are self-explanatory... everything from 5Ks to 1 marathon.
- Long Runs... I generally count anything above 10 miles as a LR, but even sub-10 may count if it was LR effort for me at the time.
- Intervals were mostly done on the treadmill, since that's what's available, but I do love the track.
- Hills were done on the treadmill, since that's controllable, safe, and easily accessible.
- XT was usually, if not always, a bike in the gym.
- Strength is my weekly-ish 1-hr strength session.  Most of it's body-weight, although I use resitance bands, a step, and dumbells for a couple of the exercises.  When I don't do the PT, I can feel it because my knees start hurting.

Percentage of Miles Done with Each Kind of Workout:

I was suprised to see how it turned out during the Mid-Year Review.  It's actually kind of perfect.  I would've thought that I was messing up Daniels' Runing Formulas's suggested percentages due to my overall low mileage, but it actually worked out without me trying to hit anything in particular.  Intervals were about 10%.  I think the suggested LR% is 25%, so I was pretty close.  I don't remember any of the others off the top of my head, and I don't have the book with me right now.

Total Mileage
882.8 miles = 2.4 miles per day.
- I didn't reach my goal of 1000 miles for the year, for the second year in a row, but that's okay.  I do what I can time-wise and safety-wise.

Total Time Spent Running
4 days, 21 hrs, 29 min, 59 sec = 19.3 min per day.

Total Time Spent Cross-Training (strength + bike, mostly)
 2 days, 18 hrs, 39 min, 30 sec = 10.95 min per day.

Total Time Spent Working Out per day
19.3 min running + 10.95 min cross-training = 30.3 min per day

Not unreasonable, huh?

Recovery = Stretching, Foam Rolling, Self-Massaging, Icing, Compression Socks
- I stared making note of each time I did one of the above, although I started some of them during the year, so I don't have accurate full-year stats.  I hope to have these stats next year, though.
- Eye-balling it, I wear compression socks 4 days a week at work, and I stretch every other day.  I rarely do the other activities.

Weekly Comments:
In my log, there's a place where I make a weekly remark.

Here they are...

1. Good start to the year. Foot is still recovering but has survived. At last, hard part over and now taper.

2. Haven’t been hitting mileage targets perfectly in last month, but it’s okay and for the best. Foot better.

3. Only soy and dairy this week, and more oatmeal. Strange sleep, though hip better after naps. Probably feel more tired than I should 1 week out.

4. Playing it safe. Let the hip rest and stretch. Maybe more worn out than I should be in week of race.

5. Too bad a/b the BQ, but I’m a marathoner! Recovered surprisingly quickly. Excited for training again and my next attempt.

6. Getting back into running. Though we’ll have to see how stress/sleep/exercise time goes next two weeks in Buenos Aires.

7. Whew, Buenos Aires. Marathon week again.

8. Dunno if I’ll go for BQ in May or if I’ll relax and focus on 5Ks/10Ks

9. 5K PR – ready to do even better next time!

10. Sleep-deprived week.

11. Just keep fit, enjoy shorter races, improve if I can.

12. Not optimal fueling and stress level.

13. No run in Buenos Aires, but ok – needed to sleep and focus on final sprint of work. Fuel content okay, though portions and timing not ideal, probably.

14. Surprising result in Half Marathon for fun – guess marathon helps overcome low training, hot weather, and extra pound.

15. Tough recovering from an all-nighter.

16. Maybe I can be more consistent, ramp it up. My legs want to run now.

17. 5K PR, but still 45s to take off. Practice more sprinting and hills – enjoyed first hill session.

18. Get back into it. Tough w/ work and social commitments.

19. Need a marathon to train for. Need to start building a base.

20. Knees a bit poundy @ end of week, maybe due to sprints. Tired? Overtrained by end of week after overexcited the first half of the week?

21. Altitude training!

22. Princeton = running heaven. Nice workouts despite tummy issues.

23. Will need to get used to schedule w/ roommate.

24. Feeling “off” this week. First heat acclimatization run outdoors.

25. Getting over knee issues w/ more quad strength that somehow weakened recently. Left heel pain persists but dealing w/ it.

26. Working a lot. Running through plantar fasciitis.

27. Plantar fasciitis moved up a little towards toes, knot/swelling now. Decided on March marathon.

28. LR = soreness, building back up, I hope. Signed up for Spinx Half.

29. Week 1 of gym – Liked Spin and Pump, did a bit of plyos.

30. Intense plyos this week. Only craved protein and carbs this week – only 3 servings of fruit/veg daily.

31. Just getting more fitness volume. Plyos tougher to manage this week. Tummy stiff and anti-veggie, over-eat at night, too?

32. Good to race again (exciting). Feared immune system down from draining work but ok by end of week.

33. Needed to rest plantar after last week’s race, though reaction to run on Friday worries me. Go btwn full and hungry w/ mealtimes at restaurants during travel.

34. About 5 hrs sleep per night all week. So tired by end of week. Decent workouts past 2 weeks, I guess, given the conditions. Plantar did better with more support, vs. using the Kinvaras.

35. Could run more after 6ish weeks of less mileage, more bike.

36. Plantar flared (swollen). Pressure at work.

37. Epic workweek – somehow survived on little sleep.

38. Started Insanity, so more workouts. Pretty good.

39. Lack of sleep at its limit this week.

40. Decent HM (hilly), so endurance really coming back. Good practice for Spinx.

41. Decent training despite travel, tummy issues, altitude because made time, know schedule and best practices. Same with food.

42. Altitude issues, tummy issues a bit, mentally pooped by end of week. Stress fractury, too?

43. Got over inflammation and had a decent race, but I want to get over plateau.

44. More sleep this week at least. Probably need the rest.

45. Thought I might be getting burned out at first, but Camp Croft race was really fun (though hard).

46. First week of marathon training, though already in good shape.

47. Home: decent track workout, LR cut short due to body.

48. Week of redemption.

49. 1st cycle down, training going well.

50. Insanity after long break = soreness. Training going well.

51. Yeah, easy LRs. No speedwork, though.

52. 2nd cycle done!

- New things I tried this year, that I haven't mentioned yet: 1) 1 month gym membership was nice.  I enjoyed the spin bike a lot, since the recumbent bike I normally use makes my right butt hurt after 45 minutes, but the gym was too far away and isn't very economical.  2) Insanity DVDs - nice, although it's probably best used in moderate doses, like 1/wk.
- Work keeps me very busy, and I don't always get the sleep I should get.
- I think I'm getting better at managing working out and eating right while traveling.  I was abroad maybe 9weeks this year.  It's still hard, but I'm learning.